After salvation, relations become the important thing for Christians

I have been very frustrated with the ritual system that Christians call church. That was going to be the primary focus of this post today. Writing about this had been in the back of my mind since last weekend but thanks to my pastor’s sermon Sunday night I saw that I needed to keep things in proper perspective.

The most important thing in life after salvation is not getting everything in our churches done the way we think is correct, it is our relationships with others, especially with our eternal brethren in the Body of Christ.

My dissatisfaction had largely been because I think our evangelical churches have moved so far from the Biblical model that I was starting to wonder why I was still attending.

Some of my own gripes were and are:

  • The church gatherings in the West are mostly ritual services. I do not think they are like the early church at all, or even like third world churches that have fellowships that are much more like family gathering.
  • Sunday School classes have become a stupid and shallow man-made substitute for mature leaders teaching others in the Body of Christ the sound doctrine that they learned. I don’t even think I need to tell my readers what I think of those Sunday School magazines that selectively teach everything as applications for living when some passages that they pick are not. I think scriptures should be taught using the historical-grammatical method of hermeneutics. For proper exegesis you have to determine who the author wrote to and why, and use the language as the author intended and in a context that fits the rest of the passage. For example, prophecy about Israel during the time of the “Day of the Lord” in Joel applies to Israel. It is not an application for Christians in America to follow. These national magazine team leaders become centralized teachers to all in the denomination and those presenting their study just become their facilitators. That ought not be.
  • The breaking down of Sunday teaching classes to narrow age categories is actually destructive to the Church family. The youth get no insight from adults other than their facilitator. Youth that have reached the age of understanding should be taught by the mature in the Church and not just get the view of one facilitator.
  • The way we select pastors in our churches is flawed and the model we have of a head pastor running all aspects of the local church is also flawed. The local church members are the church. Pastors are servants of the church not lords over the church. I read that a good book has come out that puts this in proper perspective, you might get this book “The pastor has no clothes” (I read a review but I have not read the book – I invite your input if you have)
  • The way we choose head pastors today is not biblical. Churches seem to think that graduating from Bible school makes someone a mature Christian leader?? More likely they will come out as brainwashed robots with the same agenda taught by the school faculty. They will make growth their top priority for bragging rights and try to pound people into denominational made pegboards. Soon most of them will be looking for a higher paying or more prestigious position. Pastors really should be chosen from within the local congregation and then sent for formal training if necessary. Hiring hirelings out of Bible schools is why pastors now jump ship every three years on the average. Bible schools do not make young people mature stable Christian leaders. It is rather silly and dangerous to the unity of the church to make a young person a head pastor of mature Christians unless he has been mentored all his life like Timothy.
  • The expectation that pastors should be leading people to Christ is sort of getting everything backward. The main job of the pastor is to watch over the flock. The flock are those already in the congregation. To then expect your pastor to grow the Church by converting the believing congregation is misguided. The Pastor should mainly attend to and equip the believing sheep. It is every Christian’s commission to tell the good news to the world and to try to disciple those that are receptive.
  • Churches put their pastors on a pedestal or on another spiritual level then everyone else. They make the church revolve around the pastor. The pastor is just a man and has much the same problems as everyone else. He needs the Church as much as the Church needs him.
  • Churches have put their gatherings pretty much in the early and middle of a day and that hinders people from getting extra rest or doing something with their own family. These days, Sunday is often the only day of the week possible where family and friends can do something together. So knowing this church boards strictly limit the time of church services so people can get out and do what they really want to do anyway. Instead, why not have church gatherings on Friday evenings or any evening or even most evenings and people can come and go as they want? Yeah,  even have no time limits within reason and maybe even no head pastor around. Gee… people might even chose to turn off their TV’s and have real fellowship with other Christians instead. It works for cults and it works where there is real persecution. You say Sunday is the Sabbath and it should be a day of rest? Actually, that day was Saturday and true Jews actually do rest on that day unlike most of Christendom of today.
  • Most churches have literally become state corporations. The churches are run like corporations. The churches conduct their business meetings according to corporate law. The corporate church membership conducts business and votes like a corporation. They have officers and minutes like state corporations. They obey federal tax law and its muzzling restrictions as if it was some federal approved corporation. It seems to me that most churches in the United States have become partners with a secular governmental system. This should not be.
  • Who really cares about your weekly numbers count for Sunday School and the formal ritual service? The numbers change every week so it proves nothing. Some even like to post the numbers on the walls along with some picture of a Norwegian Jesus and the Church Covenant that nobody keeps. When you cannot fit the people attending in the seats it probably is time to worry about numbers. When there are no people in the seats, it probably is time to worry even more about numbers. But at least you wont need to form a counting committee to count them
  • Don’t get me started on committees.
  •  I do not see why kids should have votes on Church affairs. We do not even allow kids to vote in our national elections but they can vote in our churches as long as they were dunked. Is that vote privilege based on their mature wisdom??
  • Etc etc.

So I was getting pretty disgusted with some of this and I was even thinking about looking elsewhere even though I know that churches in many of the areas that I mentioned above are pretty much the same around here.

Apparently, I am not alone in my dissatisfaction. According to the polls, only about 30 percent of active members actually show up each week in most churches. I am sure if the ritual service was a weekly sporting event the numbers would be at least double that figure. And truth be told, many just show up once in a while to keep their own membership in good standing. Not that most churches even care.

Many other Christians have given up on attending church altogether. I hear from them quite often. And from what they say IMHO many of these are every bit as Christian as those that are attending the church buildings. Throughout Church history many believing Christians could not physically attend or chose not to attend the established churches. That also does not mean that they do not assemble with other believers as instructed, it just means that they do not do it in a church building.

So having said all that, and knowing other things, that best falls under my etc. etc. category above, why did my thinking change from last Sunday morning to last Sunday evening? Like I said, it had to do with my pastor’s message last Sunday evening. The message he gave really was pretty simple but it was an effective and passionate well delivered message. After thinking about what he said, suddenly everything I mentioned above that had been hashing around in my brain for weeks, paled in the light of his message.

The message was basically not to get overly obsessed on issues that may have no eternal consequence. The key directive in the Bible is to love others and show them Christ through that love. He made good points that we are to strive to make true friendships on this earth because relationships and winning souls is the only thing we can take with us to eternity. We can have all correct doctrine and have everything about everything else correct but what good is it, if in all that knowledge, it just stays in our head and it helps no one here and now?

The people in the Church are our eternal family, so make friends with those you can because that is something that will last into eternity. Yes, if  everything were equal I would consider those who have the other stuff all correct, but since I am already in a church where I have found some dear friends, why would I give up that fellowship for some idealism that I know I am never going to find anyway?

I go to my church because I generally do like the people that attend there and some of these I consider close friends. So in the light of that and seeing no outright heresy, it does not make sense that I would just choose to go elsewhere. Many people do that. They jump from one church to another trying to find what they might have found if they just stayed put. That is because many are really yearning for friendships but they will not find them if they never stay anywhere long enough to develop them. Or perhaps they are expecting everyone else to be perfect when they are not perfect themselves?

We can always find reasons not to go to church. Certainly many things in my own gathering are not done as Paul would do them and maybe we should work on correcting any shortcoming the best that we can. Nevertheless, gathering together because we are family is really what it’s all about. Even the scriptures teach us this.

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Joh 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:17  These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Ro 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
1Th 4:9  But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
1Pe 1:22  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1Jo 3:11  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1Jo 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jo 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1Jo 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1Jo 4:12  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
2Jo 1:5  And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
1Jo 4:20  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Ga 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Many in this world are friendless. More than you might think in our western society of self independence suffer from chronic loneliness. People are crying to God in loneliness all the time. All they really want is one good friend.

Making friends with the friendly toward you is easy and we should do that but also be proactive and befriend the friendless and you most likely will make a lifelong friend that will prove to be closer than a brother. The reward for you on earth will be great and the reward for eternity will be even greater. Fellowship and friendship for eternity with the imagers of God is really the reason why God created people in His own Image in His creation.

 

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 Don Koenig is the founder of ThePropheticYears website. He has been publishing articles on the Internet on Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and Christian worldviews since 1999. You can find well over a thousand articles and thousands of comments written by Don from the homepage of this website.


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32 thoughts on “After salvation, relations become the important thing for Christians

  1. “The expectation that pastors should be leading people to Christ is getting everything backward. The main job of the pastor is to watch over the flock. The flock are those already in the congregation. To then expect your pastor to grow the Church by converting the believing congregation is lame. The Pastor should mainly attend to and equip the believing sheep. It is every Christians commission to tell the good news to the world and disciple those that are receptive.”

    I gotta disagree with you there. Sure, tending to the flock is a top priority for a pastor. But saying that a pastor should stop soul winning just because he is a pastor is un-Biblical. It is every Christian’s duty to win souls for Christ. My pastor has plenty of time for soul winning and he does so at least 2-3 days per week. And he is a full time pastor.

    If we could only get megachurch pastors like Osteen and others in these pseudo-church/country clubs to do so there would be a lot less problems in their own churches (and I use the term “church” loosely when applying it to Osteen’s church).

  2. Frank

    your reading things into what I actually said and I really take offense to that. I did not say that pastors should stop soul winning. I said that all Christians should be winning souls. The problem in the Church today is that everyone expects the pastor to do it and that is no more his role than it is ours.

    Sure people like Osteen have a big platform and being a seeker church it has a lot of unbelievers within and if he actually preached the gospel he is going to get some response but that is not true of most churches. Yet, many think the pastor is the one that win converts for Christ and he is the one that grows the Church. That is a recipe for little growth because you’re taking the responsibility of the church and putting it on the back of one man. Believe it or not your pastor, if he is doing his job, really has enough to do just to keep his own sheep from falling into the ditch.

  3. Don,

    I take note on what you said about ‘chronic loneliness’ in the church…it is something I haven’t thought about before and will pay more attention to now…and reach out if I suspect it.

    Thank You.

  4. Don ,
    I have never forgotten that a pastor’s wife told me most people who attend church are consumers
    they want to recieve, but give nothing in return. Too many people expect the pastor or other paid staff to do everything. Paul tells is in Ephesians that Christ gave pastors,teaches, apostles, prophets, etc for the equiping of the saints to do the work of the ministry. My
    understanding of that is that ALL are to be involved in doing ministry work. For those who like
    those short 20 minute sermons try Ben Hayden at http://www.changedlives.org . If you really want to learn the scriptures get tapes and CD’s , there are many good teachers , find one that works for you, but let THE HOLY SPIRIT be your primary teacher. A good source for teaching material is http://www.firefighters.org tape ministry. I have the same issues with tradational church that you
    have. My best experience has been small Bible Study groups within a church.

  5. Yes Don, I hope that I am seeing a bit of trend as people reject the stale formality of “church” for the vital, familial relationship with the Godhead and fellow believers.

    Cold-calling-Evangelism has its place, and even so a welcoming seat in a worship community for an unbeliever, but I think that nothing beats real friendships as a means for His Spirit to draw others to Jesus.

    It has been said that many people like and respect Jesus who would never set foot in a church; these people have a bigger problem with what they perceive us in The Church as being like than they do with their self-awareness that they need God.

    If we took the time to befriend (I like to call) “pre-believers” while at the same time, loving our fellow believers, we would be winsome and attractive just as the early Church was.

    Sadly, for too many of us in the evangelical part of the Church, we have developed our own little subculture: our own ghetto, if you will, and many of us will scarcely leave it to “touch” the “dirty” people of the world. (AND those people BETTER BE CLEAN/HOLY if they want to “pal-around” with us!!!)

    Even expensive evangelistic programs are “cheap” when compared to what a true friendship costs: You can be a true friend to a pre-believer, that’s what “brotherly love” is about. You share yourself; you let them share themselves (you make it *safe* for them to do this by not harping on their sin every other minute!). We gently let His Spirit convict them of their need – if you’re being a true friend, being honest, open and transparent, then they will see your life and priorities, but they will also see your genuine care for them and their concerns: naturally speaking, these won’t “add-up” – supernaturally speaking, they will make perfect sense, and His Spirit will point that out to them. See how this can get *really* expensive? See how it can be VERY PERSONALLY RISKY???

    We aren’t perfect people either, and it’s okay for pre-believers to see this, because as they see us fall and get back up again IN HIM, they will come to see His grace and mercy. Rather than seeing us a hypocrites, they will realize that we are human just like they are, but it is our relationship with someone who loves us beyond earthly compare that makes the difference.

    Admit when we are wrong; admit when we don’t know the answer to a question. Don’t over-spiritualize *everything*; laugh and cry with them – life is funny – life is sad; let them see you frustrated. Share your impossibilities with them and how God helps you. In all this, you become a genuine person to them, an authentic friend. Because Christ’s Spirit is in you, it will be *impossible* for them to not notice Him in your authenticity. You will have become a living chapter of His Living Word that is communicated in the language of their hearts!

    I think one of the worst things a Christian can say to a pre-believer is “You’re going to Hell because you do/are…” Goodness!!! No one goes to Hell because of any particular sin they’ve committed. There is only one thing (sin-wise) we will be called to account: What did we do with Jesus: did we accept His pardon or did we reject it? THAT’S the MILLION-DOLLAR-QUESTION!!!

    It makes no (eternal) difference whether a pre-believer “cleans-up-their-life” or not. Sadly, some believers think that such a life “cleanup” is necessary BEFORE one can join God’s family. It’s exactly opposite: no meaningful renewal can happen until one has given themselves to Jesus, accepting His pardon! Once this question is settled positively, then everything else is a growth-process of renewal, healing, wholeness/holiness – something that *WILL* require the rest of this new believer’s life because God tends to take His time with things as He works patiently with us.

    In reading Don’s post and thinking again about these things, what really jumps to mind is that “love covers a multitude of sins.”

    It’s not that we should tolerate sin, but that we should be PATIENT with people who sin. Abba doesn’t tolerate our sin, but if He dealt with each of us within a white-hot-instant-of-justice, who of us would live beyond mere moments? Instead, He is patient with us, far, FAR more than we are with each other and ourselves.

    We are delicate – fearfully and wonderfully made, and also tragically fallen and all knotted-up inside. I have seen Him gently work in my impossibilities, working on one knot in my psyche a bit, then moving over to another issue, and then to another, then back to the first one (which may be worked-on productively again, now that other parts have become less tangled), and so it continues… It will take a lifetime for God to completely untangle me. What have been my hurts, weaknesses and failures, have become a showcase of God’s grace that they may be encouraged to surrender to His forgiving and healing hand too! True friends see us on these “secret” parts of our journey and they marvel…

    So what’s that all got to do with “love covering a multitude of sins?”

    Remember that “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

    God is *patient* with us, and helps us bear the consequences of our sins even as He works the sinfulness our of us, even as Jesus bore the death penalty of our sin. We are to be like that with each other, and ourselves, and doing so in good-faith is NOT being “soft on sin,” and acknowledging that we are not “there yet” with our issues is not “a license to sin.” It’s recognizing that growth is a journey with twists and turns and hills, and sunshine, flowers, mud and rain; there are dark, icky places and radiant mountaintops. Throughout, He is with us; He is patiently with us…

    Grace allows us to survive our screw-ups. Don’t shoot a fellow believer or yourself over sin: Jesus already died for it; cooperate with His Spirit on the recovery part.

    Goodness! Sorry folks, I don’t mean to sound “preachy.” It’s that I’m am *so excited* and *so grateful* for what God has done for me: I’m not exaggerating when I say He has and is working in my impossibilities and the knots in my psyche!

    When we are open enough with people so they can see God working in and through us, then they see Him in ways that are more meaningful to them than a recital of John 3:16. It’s like this: Thomas was told Jesus raised from the dead, but he needed to see Jesus for himself. AND Jesus, know Tom needed this, and graciously met him where he was.

    Dear brothers and sister, please let us be gracious to others (and ourselves) just as our *Wonderful* Lord constantly demonstrates His graciousness to us!

  6. Don, I agree with your frustration concerning the church today. I feel like you do almost every time I go. Its hard to continue attending a particular church but the only solution I can see is to start another church of our own, and I’m not ready to do that. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to attend when and where I feel led and not going to let it bother me if others want to judge me. Having a pastor who is “in charge” really stiffles the freedom of the Lord in using the gifts of the other members of the body. Its to bad when you go to church to get a blessing and be a blesssing and you come home discouraged. But yet the Lord tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. God bless you. your website is a blessing.

  7. John S. ,
    My discovery has been that on those times I don’t feel like going to church , go anyway. I try
    to go with the attitude that I am there to honor and worship Jesus, If he is pleased
    then how I feel is irrevelant. More often than not something happens that blesses me. It can
    be as simple as a conversation with someone else. If I go for me I may as well stay home. It’s
    got to be about The Lord and he always rewards faithfulness. We have to allow ourselves to be
    available to Him for His purposes. I do understand your frustration.

  8. Hopefully, this will be considered on-topic. I agree that “church” will never be perfect until Jesus comes back. That being said, 2 things bug me to no end. 1., coherced altar calls, regardless if the Spirit is there or not to justify said altar calls, and 2., the endless pummeling about tithing. After almost 30 years of being Christian, NO ONE has ever been able to explain to me how, if a person is being frugal with their finances and still can’t meet their obligations is supposed to give 10%+ gifts, offerings, etc. The last time i looked, I never saw anything in Scripture about the Lord dropping a magical bag of money on the dinner table{not that He COULDN’T if He chose to, and yes, I remember the account of the coin in the fishes mouth He told Peter to go get}. Also, where is the rightousness of telling your creditors that you had to pay your tithe, so you were not able to pay them? It almost seems that, although everyone I ever asked denied it, that if you did’nt pay your tithe, you would’nt be cursed, but you would’nt be blessed either. I’m not trying to be irreverant, I just don’t get it.

  9. Don Fritts,

    That is exactly the attitude that we should all have when going to church in my opinion…it’s not about us…it’s about the Lord…awesome, well said : )

  10. Michael I agree,

    Church boards and pastors think they should copy Billy Graham’s ministry and methods (With every eye closed and nobody looking around etc) The truth is that there are no altar calls given in New Testament instruction. Some of the most Godly church leaders I know have stopped the altar call ritual for good reason.

    I wrote my own article on tithing. Of course most church leaders would not agree, but it is the truth, nevertheless.

    http://www.thepropheticyears.com/comments/Are%20Christians%20commanded%20to%20tithe.htm

    If the Church started reading the Bible and thinking through what it says for themselves instead of getting everything they know from their pastor and denomination, doctrines of men would not prevail on our churches.

  11. I read this article today but Chuck Baldwin. I think it is somewhat harsh since most Church leaders that I know do not allow the state to influence their programs and their teaching anywhere near as much as Baldwin implies.

    Nevertheless, I think Christians should be aware of his viewpoint. There are truths and points to ponder here.

    http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin662.htm

  12. Michael Angelo,
    About the tithe, I do not believe God will penalize you if you are honestly not capable of paying a tithe due to low income, debt, etc. I had a experience many years ago that is too involved to get into here. I believe in paying it & as for your remark about a bag of gold dropping out of the sky I can tell you with 100% certainty, I was blessed when I paid my tithe.
    Not sure why people are against an altar call unless my version of one isn’t even close to anyone else’s version. I got into a very heated debate with someone on FB (figured out half-way into it she was into Reformed/5 point calvinist theology). She stated the sappy music designed to tug on heart strings & walking down an aisle doesn’t save anybody. What I didn’t understand was she included an old video of a preacher that invited anyone to come speak to him following his Sunday service if they were interested in knowing Jesus. Is that not an altar call? Can someone explain what I’m missing? No, they didn’t play any music or specifically stated it was the time of the service to perform the ‘altar call’ but that’s got nothing to do with it.

  13. Don,
    Just read your link about tithing…got to admit, at first I thought I was going to have something against you but when I got to the end I don’t have anything that I don’t agree with you. I like to give, it gives me great satisfaction to give…not just money to the church I attend but my time, my talents. My pastor died several months ago. We all knew it was inevitable so I brought him home-roasted coffee & home-made bread. You’d have thought I signed a blank check & given it to him, he was always so extremely grateful. I don’t have a big head for all the giving I do, on the contrary, I am grateful God has blessed me to be able to give. There are many people that aren’t in that category & I certainly don’t think I’m the least bit ‘better’ than they are. And God has REALLY blessed me…anyway, I know this is getting a bit off topic.
    I agree with the bit about most having it backwards with regard to who is responsible for leading people to Jesus. The pastor that led me told me the same thing…thought it was the funniest thing at the time since I had never heard that concept before. Common sense really, how effective can one man be compared to 100 in his congregation. People must think he’s Santa Claus or something.

  14. Shawn,

    You have it in proper perspective. God wants us to bless and be blessed through our giving. He does not want us to give just because someone said it is a requirement.

    People have different views on altar calls. Some churches would get rid of the pastor if he did not have one every week. Other churches would get rid of the pastor if he had one every week. I think God will save those He wants to save either way.

  15. Hello everyone…..God Bless you all.

    Don it is so nice to be in a Church and have that family atmosphere of people who love each other because they love Christ. It really is! The problem I guess to me is a few doctrinal issues even with the denomination that I agree most closely with.I consider myself a Berean because I don’t just beleive someone or some denominations doctrine without thoroughly scrutinizing it through the scriptures. I am honestly concerned about our Chuches and what is going on in them, many of them you mentioned in your article. It makes me sad.

    One thing that truly puzzles me and I will admit that it bugs me when I drive by almost every Church. Why on the signs out front of Churches, do we see man made sayings rather than Scripture. Its the Scripture that cut to the heart and has an effect on a man’s soul. The little man made sayings do not have that effect at least on me anyway. But on the very rare occasion that I see a verse of scripture on one of the signs, I may think on the verse all day. That sign out front could be such an opportunity to reach out to the community with the word of our Lord.

    Anyway, I hope yall are in or find a Church family that is a good fit for you. And Don, you and I have differences in our beleifs at least on end time stuff. I do visit your site often and I do appreciate this site and you. I am seeking the Truth about what is going on in this world we live on and you have been a help to me. Thank you!

  16. “People have different views on altar calls. Some churches would get rid of the pastor if he did not have one every week. Other churches would get rid of the pastor if he had one every week. I think God will save those He wants to save either way.”

    Are you a believer in the teachings of John Calvin?

  17. IMO this is on topic since we are talking about salvation and what is more important than that?

    Calvin believed that God picks and chooses who is saved, when God does not when he says, “all who will, come.” I agree with some of what Calvin taught, but he is dead wrong on that.

    People that do believe God picks and chooses uses that as an excuse to not witness and only try to befriend the unsaved and hope that that will be good enough for them to confess Christ. Being kind to others is definitely a fruit of the Holy Ghost, but God relies and depends on us to tell there is hell to avoid and a heaven to be gained. And it has been proven the only true way to be effective is to tell someone that we are all sinners and there is a savior for us. That is not being mean, that is what love is. Of course, you don’t just walk up to someone and tell them they are going to hell. 🙂

  18. Frank,

    Staying on topic is what is important on a blog otherwise nobody will read it.

    There is no end to that chicken and egg argument. Both sides can put up a good argument from the scriptures and that is why the Church is split on this. We are not going to solve hundreds of years or debate on Calvinistic teaching here.

    No matter what you believe about Calvin’s teaching it does not mean the gospel of salvation has to be done in a Church building every Sunday morning while preaching to the already converted. It also does not mean that you cannot do that if that is what members in your church want to do.

    Futher, no matter what your position is on the elect, the scriptures I quoted about loving others still applies.

  19. Here is a good example of what love is. It’s a quote from some literature I just received from frontiers missions.

    “The worst crime of the desert is knowing where the water is and not telling.” anomymous

    If, while having a conversation with someone, I can tell they are interested in spiritual things, I will bring up the gospel and see where we go from there. I do not have the gift of evangelism, but I try to be a witness to Christ’s goodness to me. That can happen in church because not everyone who attends is born again. But it mostly happens out there where we live life. My friends and support group are all believers after being a Christian since my teen years. We definately need each other for a whole lot of reasons. The church is us. What a bearutiful thing.

  20. I didn’t read EVERYthing but I just want to share one thought. It seems to me that the old-time New Testament churches were for BELIEVERS only. Were UNbelievers “allowed” to mingle? Did people get saved and then “go” to church then? Scripture indicate that people were ADDED to church after open-air preaching. Thoughts?

  21. The word Church implies believers and there was a grave danger from spy’s of the state and religion. There still is, in many countries. I suppose some family members would have been taught and saved there but Church was for believers. I think Christianity spread by open air preaching where is was allowed and where it was not allowed it spread by individual witnessing.

    Having said that, there is good reason to preach the true gospel to those that go to our western churches. Most that attend churches today are not true Christians and they need to hear the true gospel. Too bad few preachers actually teach the gospel in their churches.

  22. Don, thank you for the post. I just want to some clarification. The very last line of your post, that is said, “God created people in His own Image in His creation”. What does that mean? Actually I am very curious about it. If God made us in his own image, then he must looks like a man and it is not possible at all.

  23. Evan,

    Have you every seen a picture of Jesus when He did not look like a man? God made man in His own Image and the Son of God walked with man like a man before His incarnation as a man. Angels also appear as men. The Bible is clear on this. Father God is a Spirit and the only visible express image of Him is Christ Jesus. The Son of God even took the form of a man in mortal flesh and died as a man and rose as a risen man. I do not see why it is so hard for you to understand that man was modeled after His creator.

    Having said that, being made in His image really can be interpreted that we were created to be His imagers. In other words man was created to image or reflect God and the Son of God has always done that perfectly and now all in Christ Jesus will have the same destiny.

  24. Don,

    A long time ago, I had the same question as Evan…as far as being in the image of Father God, the spirit…but I wasn’t taking into account that Jesus was there since the beginning of creation.

  25. Hi Don
    Other than its application to our dealings with people, especially the Brethren, this might be considered off topic.
    It is my understanding that we are made in God’s image in our immaterial (spiritual) abilities, the abilities of the mind.
    The human body is a natural extension to this and is so designed as to allow expression of what is in our mind, i.e. in audible words words and physical actions.
    God’s image was in the mind of Christ Jesus and fully and perfectly expressed in his words and actions, therefore in seeing Jesus and believing his words the disciples would have seen God and would have known God.
    The question for all of us is; do WE believe the testimony given to us of Jesus words and his actions? If we do we will see God in Christ, and if from that we become conformed to the image of Christ, we in turn will be a living testimony to God’s presence in the world.

    Brett, I have only just read your comment of the 17th Aug and must add my thanks along with Don for such a vibrant testimony to the beauty of God’s grace in one’s life.

  26. Brian, the theory that the mind makes us made in the image of God has been one explanation offered by some theologians in the past but there are holes in that view so it has been shot down by other theologians. You might want to do a study on the different views of what being created in the image of God means.

    I think the best explanation I have heard given by a ancient language scholar is that it is really saying that we were created to be imagers of God. In other words God will be reflected through us to His creation as we also see God reflected through Jesus. I think these verses support that view.

    Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

    1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

  27. “… we were created to be imagers of God.”
    My point is not that different; I just do not believe the body is made in the image of God but is the vessel through which we verbally and actively express God’s image within.
    However as you suggest I will chase up other expositions holding the opposing view.

  28. Don & Brian,

    “… we were created to be imagers of God.”

    I learned a new concept/perspective from this…thank you.

    When I think of God living outside of the constraints of time (that he created) and that it is written, he is a ‘Consuming Fire’…I consider it beyond my knowledge to know at this time on earth some of these things…but I certainly like to learn what concepts we can come up with.

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